Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Worst Four Letter Word Ever

The preacher threw it out there like he was giving someone the time of day. Everyone else in the church was oblivious to the fury with which the word thundered into the room. Aren't they paying attention. "DID YOU HEAR WHAT HE JUST SAID?????????" It was a miracle that I was sitting in church on a rainy, cold Sunday morning. But now I'm the only one that heard the bombshell? All the other sheep in the flock were making sure the kids had something to keep them quiet and getting their hard candies lined up so they wouldn't cough during the proceedings. Yes, I alone was privy to this revelation...
"Wait." That's what he said. "Wait." It took every ounce of control in me to not stand up, approach the altar, disrespect a man of the cloth and begin a tirade the likes of which Methodists haven't seen since the Wesley brothers were saving souls on St. Simon's Island. "You want me to wait???????? WAIT?????????? I've BEEN waiting!" Better yet, I remembered a story I heard about my great grandfather and the time he got drunk and rode a mule down the center aisle of some church, right in the middle of the sermon. I briefly considered recreating that spectacle for the fine folks of Buford, Georgia but I refrained. The preacher admitted that he knew it was the one word that people who'd been praying and hoping and longing and seeking didn't want to hear. He said the hardest part of growing, reaching goals, realizing unfulfilled potential and realizing destinies is the waiting game. If that to which you aspire has not shown itself, the lessons and growth that occur during the wait are all part of the plan. My first thought? "I should've stayed in that warm bed this morning." He could've pointed his finger down at me from on high and said "TIMOTHY! BECAUSE OF YOUR PROPENSITY TO ENJOY MARTINIS AND LISTEN TO HEATHEN MUSIC YOU WILL NOT GO TO HEAVEN UPON YOUR DEMISE!!!" and I would've been less rattled.
I'm at a point in life where most of the folks around me are "there." I go on one of these "social networking" sites and, while I love catching up with familiar faces, I mostly use it as means to berate myself. I look at all these "arrived" folks, convince myself they're at the pinnacle of human existence and that I'm still a doofus. I'm still on the way. I'm really not even sure where I'm on the way to! (that's a poor sentence, I know..blogs are the home of poetic license.) Most days I don't feel any wiser than the day they handed me a diploma on that stage in the Stone Mountain High School gymnasium in June of 1981.
I love the written word. More specifically I love producing the written word. Often feel like it's the only thing I've ever done well. So surely there's the answer - write and fame and fortune and riches soon await! More importantly there will be comfort and peace of mind for the woman that has chosen to live her life with me. Then, through the aforementioned social networking site, I run across a sweet soul I went to high school with and she's written seven novels and received umpteen rejection letters. She's still waiting. I've finally gotten up the courage to begin researching a novel I've wanted to write for years. Just researching the thing is intimidating the hell out of me but the thought of actually beginning the novel is more terrifying than a mama bear backed into a corner. And then the reality that, if I finish that novel, there's going to be MORE waiting???
Part of the problem, I think, is my age. A lot of men hit my age and buy expensive toys. I hit 46 years old and started to panic. I don't want to be the Grandma Moses of whatever it is that I start next. The death of my last living parent last year exaggerated the brevity of life for me. Parents now, me next. Nothing to do but wait on a new hip and start eating dinner at 4:00 in the afternoon. Is Lawrence Welk still on? I should probably work that into my routine.
If day to day life were more comfortable right now, the wait wouldn't be so tough. The economy has negatively impacted our financial situation just like it has for many others. I'm determined to do what I have to do to change that. I sort of look at my writing as a means to that end, though I am taking other steps in that regard. Going back to school, looking for other (better paying employment.) paying off what debt we can so that more of our hard earned money is actually ours. I'm working on all of that to improve things. But, even so, it comes back to waiting. And struggling while waiting. Learning while waiting? Growing while waiting? Nah...I choose to concentrate on the negative....STRUGGLING while waiting.
I was determined this was going to be our year. I was going to approach each day with a new resolve...even courage and positivity. Then bang - the year started off with a frozen/burst pipe and a flood in one half of the house. Our $500 deductible may as well be $5,000 for us at this point. So much for that resolve and courage and positivity changing things. Now I'm WAITING on contractors and insurance adjusters to do their thing. Meanwhile we sleep in this room, while our clothes and everything else from one side of the house are crammed into that room and there's bags of shoes under the kitchen table etc..etc... "This too shall pass.." "It'll be worth the wait when you have new carpet and new flooring in bedroom and bathroom.." I've heard it all. And they're right. But it comes down to more damn waiting on things to get better. And, like I mentioned in my last post, current events in other parts of the world are huge doses of perspective and I really should buck up and take things lightly....and wait..........dammit.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Yesterday would've been Mother's 85th birthday. I celebrated the day by going to a welcome back meeting at the stadium for all of us who work for the Gwinnett Braves. I think she'd be happy with me spending a dreary, cold, rainy winter day at the stadium realizing the promise that winters don't last forever....February comes and pitchers and catchers report and then before long it's opening day. I found a piece of paper stuck in her bible one time years ago...she was always scribbling down quotes that she'd heard on the radio, in movies or read somewhere. This one said "90 feet between bases is as close to perfect as humans will ever come..." I thought about that quote yesterday and the day didn't seem so cold and dreary and rainy after all.
Our house is upside down, the result of a frozen/burst pipe that flooded our master bath, part of our bedroom and our walk-in closet. The last two weeks have been water damage specialists, insurance adjusters and contractors. I was sweating all of this to the point of making myself sick with worry...until I saw a bulldozer in Haiti pushing dead folks by the hundreds into a mass grave. Then I realized I was an evil person for letting what amounts to an inconvenience ruin my outlook on life. It's been a pain in the butt - but in a couple of hours I'll shake up my Friday evening martini and cook something good for supper. One of my favorite folks in the world got in touch with me this afternoon to discuss the possibility of running some of my stuff in her newspaper. Another friend FROM CHILDHOOD got in touch with me and is offering assistance in the possibility of finding me new/better employment. And, as I say, spring training is right around the corner. I should really just shut my mouth, shake up that martini and realize how good I've got it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

WSM and Wandering Feet

In the very early days of my life on this planet we lived on Fayetteville Rd, just up the street from a bridge that's still there and passes over I-20. From our home that lacked air conditioning (though I don't remember missing it very much) one could lie in bed and through open windows hear traffic rolling down that interstate. In those years we didn't live in a 24-7 world and the only vehicles running up and down that road in the wee hours were trucks. Lots and lots of trucks. I can remember lying there in bed and thinking that the men driving those trucks were the luckiest people in the world. There was nobody making them feed the dogs, nobody reminding them to brush their teeth and wash behind their ears and, most importantly, nobody telling them when to go to bed. In fact they got to stay up all night and drive those big, fast, strong trucks all over the place! I spent a lot of time imagining where a truck was going and what it was carrying. I liked those huge ones that had sleepers on them so that, when the need struck, a driver could pull over and take a nap. Yep, they had to be the luckiest and coolest people alive those truck drivers.
We moved out to the suburbs when I was 9 years old. I missed the sound of that highway and those thundering trucks. But my fascination with these diesel monsters stayed with me. There was soon a television show about truck drivers called "Movin' On." Had a cool theme song that got played on the radio a lot. Claude Aikens and some young blond-haired guy drove this huge, dark green Kenworth Conventional and had all sorts of adventures. This was all simultaneous with the CB craze that swept the country (remember the song "Convoy" that also became a movie with Kris Kristofferson?) It all fueled my fascination with trucks...but more specifically with folks that got to spend their life wandering.
I became so obsessed with all of this that the following became my favorite childhood game (listen closely....): I had a stool that was about the height of a bar stool in my bedroom. I would saddle it up next to the bed and get out my mama's biggest laundry basket which became a steering wheel. I had several models that I'd assembled of various models and sizes of trucks. I would sit one within sight of my perch by the bed. That would be the truck I was driving on any given Saturday night (it was always Saturday night by the way.) It was most often my model of that beautiful green Kenworth from that t.v. show! I would turn on the radio in my room and turn the dial until I found WSM out of Nasvhille. Every Saturday night - all the way from Nasvhille to Stone Mountain, Georgia - came the sounds of the greatest country and bluegrass stars performing at the Grand Ol' Opry....always brought to you by "GOO-GOO CLUSTERS!" (which I now know were born in Nashville and, during the depression, advertised themselves as "a nourishing lunch for a nickel!") I would sit on that perch driving my laundry basket for hours, usually after I knew my parents had gone to bed under the assumption that I was also in bed. Or maybe they knew that I wasn't asleep and that there were worse things for a boy to be fascinated with than trucks and out of town radio stations.
I'm still rather fascinated with huge trucks. My heart still skips a beat when I pass one on the freeway. I've always said that one day if I have enough disposable income I'm going to buy one just to work on and drive around (dear God...I AM a redneck.) But I really think the fascination goes beyond large vehicles. I think it's more about those open highways and the horizon towards which those white lines race. Surely there are adventures of unimaginable proportions awaiting there..and even if there's just more of the same my mind can't believe it's so. See, this cranium still holds the mind of a little boy. Try as I may I can't force it to match the newly sprouted gray hairs and crow's feet that are living on the outside of this body.
For too long, though, I lost that little boy's mind and grew a sad, boring mind. My years of bad health and morbid obesity were like being in a prison for me. There were no opportunities or possibilities. There wasn't a chance that things could change or improve. I wasn't going to wander and see new places and meet new people. I was stuck, the woman I love was stuck and nothing would change. Now, I've woken up in Oz and everything is in color. I can rush into this new year thinking that there are new stories yet to be told. In fact, in this new year, I'm earnestly going to begin work on a story I've been wanting to tell for longer than I can remember. It might land with a big thud at my feet and go nowhere and be read by no one. But at least I will have tried and therein will lie a great adventure. The road's wide open...I just gotta decide which truck to drive!
(as a footnote - I think it's sad when I wander through the housewares department of a store and note that the majority of laundry baskets are now square. They would make awful steering wheels.)